GN tests private 5G broadband network as pilot project
Test project will involve some government workers; results could help GN plan for future expansion
A pilot project to connect a limited number of employees to ultra-fast 5G broadband service is being introduced by the Government of Nunavut.
The plan will provide internet and network access outside of GN facilities and throughout the community for staff involved in this initial project, GN spokesperson Hala Duale said.
It will allow them access to the same programs and services they have access to in GN buildings.
“The general public will not be able to access the GN’s private 5G network,” Duale said.
The internal network will only be accessible to government employees using approved, GN-provisioned SIM cards and secured devices. The network is for government business so the wider public, including family members of government staff, will not have access to the network.
It hasn’t been decided yet how many employees will take part in the pilot project, which is expected to go on for a year.
The $500,000 contract to build the network for the pilot project was awarded last December to Galaxy Broadband. Operational testing of the network has started already.
Galaxy Broadband also recently created a high-speed internet network for Nunavut Arctic College.
The purpose of the 5G pilot project is to test the viability of the technology in meeting the government’s needs and see how it functions within northern environmental conditions.
The goal is to maintain a more robust telecommunications infrastructure for employees and students who use the GN’s networks.
As of 2022, 12,459 staff and students accessed the GN’s networks, according to GN planning documents.
The push to look at creating an exclusive Government of Nunavut network came about during the early stages of COVID-19 in March 2020, Duale said. The pandemic put a strain on internet infrastructure in Nunavut when GN staff as well as students were forced to work from home.
“As many of the Government of Nunavut staff and students transitioned to work from home, connectivity back into the GN network was a major obstacle,” Duale said.
There is no plan to expand the pilot project to other facilities across the territory. However, the government hopes to use what it learns from the project for future expansions.
Staff who are taking part will be able to access the network from government phones, 5G-enabled USB sticks or data hubs that can be connected directly to computers or laptops.